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2017 APPAM Presidential Address
M.A. Student, Teachers College, Columbia University
Thoughtful, engaging, passionate, and purpose-driven are just a few words out of a long list to describe the packed conference room for Carolyn Heinrich’s presidential address this evening. Her presentation titled, “A Thousand Petty Fortresses: Administrative Burden in U.S. Immigration Policies and its Consequences” brought light to an issue that is not transparent to many: the explicit targeting of Mexican immigrants by Texas State Dept. of Health Service in its ID policy. This policy does not allow mothers to obtain the birth certificates for their U.S. born children.
Speaking boldly and candidly, Heinrich recognized America’s long history of racial restriction and the continuing intent to discriminate based on race and ethnicity. It provided the background for her research of the discretionary enforcement of the varying access to birth certificates for U.S. born children.
This very thorough presentation does a wonderful job by not allowing the core of the message to be overwhelmed with data points and citations. She connected the audience not solely by intellect but by showing the lack of humanity within this policy that denies mothers the ability to obtain their U.S. born children’s birth certificates. The implications for mothers are the following: an inability to enroll a child in daycare or public schools, no access to public health insurance, medical care and nutrition supplements (WIC) and mothers cannot travel freely with their child.
These implications are not static. They are building upon negative effects that will be long-lasting. However, Heinrich does not let her presentation end there. She encourages the APPAM audience to push beyond just asking questions about of access, to look closely and deeply at small issues because they can have long-term negative effects, and to remember how important immigrants are to our society, not solely from a perspective of labor but as part of our community.
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